H-SANTA MARIA

May 11, 2011 10:10 PM by Ariel Wesler

Santa Maria CHP recovers Camaro stolen in 1975

The New Jersey owner of a 1969 Chevy Camaro SS stolen nearly 36 years ago says she's in disbelief after the CHP in Santa Maria recovered the car.

Back in February, a Santa Maria man bought the car on Ebay from a private seller in Tennessee, but after registering the car, he noticed some features that didn't check out with an original. He contacted the CHP and soon found out the car had been stolen.

"I saw some video of it. It looked pretty good. It was quite eye catching," said Keith Williams of Santa Maria.

When Williams first purchased the hot rod on Ebay, he didn't realize it was also a hot item.

"You research a car long enough, you kind of know what to expect and there were things missing," Williams said.

Certain features seemed inconsistent with a 1969 Chevy Camaro S.S. The car's body was collage of parts and the six cylinder engine had been replaced with a 427 V-8. So, he contacted the CHP.

"There's identifying numbers on the car in several locations and through those numbers, we were able to rebuild the original VIN number," said Officer Chuck Johnes with the California Highway Patrol.

And when they ran it? They found a match.

"July 8th of 1975, Newark, New Jersey Butternut Yellow Camaro, stolen," Williams said.

The CHP says this is one of the oldest vehicle's it's ever recovered, possibly the oldest.>

An officers called the original owner 3000 miles away to let her know the shocking news.

"Initially, she thought is was a crank call and hung up on him a couple times," Johnes said.

"Being we're in New Jersey and this was recovered in California, I couldn't believe it, and I still can't believe it, but I think it's just great!" said Janice Maffucci, the original owner.

The car had been stolen from the post office, where her father worked 36 years ago.

"I had given up hope and I never thought that this would ever happen," Maffucci said.

Meanwhile, Williams had insured his $28,000 purchase, so he's getting reimbursed. He's still out $875 for transporting the car, a modest price, he says, for a timeless tale.

Williams estimates the car is worth about $15,000-$16,000, but he's no longer interested in buying it. Maffucci says she still plans on selling it and doesn't have any room to bring it back to New Jersey. She hopes all the attention will attract some more buyers.

The CHP is still investigating the car's registration history to find out who might have stolen it.

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